Does YouTube Love TV Because Mobile Loves Facebook?

Two pieces of news may seem unrelated but actually, they fit like hand and glove. YouTube is widely reported as suddenly dropping the attitude and wanting to work with the television industry. At the same time, it has emerged that Netflix and Amazon simply are not watched on mobile -- they are enjoyed in the living room on that box that the likes of YouTube have been writing off for years.

Is this why there is a change in tone? YouTube rolled out James Corden this week to tell tv executives in London that it wanted to work with them. Good old-fashioned television screens have been identified as the service's fastest-growing channel as people sit back on the sofa and enjoy clips. With just 4% of Netflix or Amazon Video streaming taking place on a mobile phone, the evidence would appear to be clear. New start-up services have not killed the television -- they have actually emboldened it, adding a new way for us all to watch shows at a time that suits us, not the broadcaster.

Now Google appears to realise that skateboarding kittens are all well and good, but it's tv show clips and celebrities that are consistently bringing in the big numbers. Make clips for YouTube and then make shows available on the service and the numbers will be there, on a sofa watching the television, and not just a computer or mobile. 

Which brings us to mobile video. YouTube claims that more than half of its viewing is coming from mobile, but you have to wonder whether its sudden love for the television industry is not routed in Facebook's huge success in mobile video. Figures have been sprayed around all year and the 100m users watching 500m hours worth of video every day on the social media site is probably about as reliable as its other video metrics. However, you know just by your own experience that Facebook is beginning to own mobile video.

Whether it's clips in feeds or people or brands using Facebook Live, there is a lot of mobile attention heading toward Facebook. Don't know about you, but I just don't see the same accidental video discovery going on with YouTube -- which to me, is becoming a destination rather than a vehicle of discovery. I'd love to know how much mobile video consumption on YouTube occurs direct, through it own app, compared to a click on a Facebook post. I suspect the latter is an increasingly high proportion of mobile viewing on YouTube.

Mobile is different from television, or even a laptop. It's more about idling away a few moments, and discovering content by chance. However, the television is most definitely a destination channel. You're usually watching a specific show or searching for a video to watch because you've committed half an hour to be entertained.

This sound a lot more like YouTube territory, doesn't it? You can't imagine people watching Facebook on a television in the hope something interesting pops up, but you can imagine them launching YouTube and watching a bunch of songs by their favourite bands, some fishing clips and short documentary. 

Is this tactical shift, or at least a dropping of hostilities with the tv industry, a realisation of this at YouTube? I suspect so.

2 comments about "Does YouTube Love TV Because Mobile Loves Facebook? ".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, December 14, 2016 at 7 p.m.

    100m users watching 500m hours a day!?   That's 5 hours per day per user.   Even for TV that would be a very heavy viewing load.   Think we'd better press the re-set button on that one.

  2. Sean Hargrave from Sean Hargrave, December 15, 2016 at 4:09 a.m.

    Hi John, hence the joke about how reliable Facebook's video metrics are!

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